One of the oldest districts in Amsterdam, Nieuwmarkt and Lastage was once the city’s shipbuilding quarter. These days, the area is peppered with remnants of its past, such as markets and an old city gate, plus some of Amsterdam’s most cutting-edge cafés, restaurants and bars. I handpicked the highlights of the Nieuwmarkt and Lastage neighbourhood so you can immerse yourself for one day in its delights.
Start your day at one of Amsterdam’s coolest cafés. Betty Blue is an airy industrial space that houses a bakery, events space and a tonne of seating. Open every day from 9am, this is the perfect place to fill up with some seriously comforting brunch options.
Indulge yourself with chicken and waffles, topped with eggs and bacon and drizzled with a whiskey caramel sauce and then balance it out with one of their signature spinach smoothies. Their pancakes come stacked with berries and bananas, or for a savoury option, try them with avocado, courgettes and poached eggs.
Once your belly is full, it’s time for some shopping at a few of Amsterdam’s famous flea markets. Waterlooplein Market is the oldest one in the whole of the Netherlands, having first started in 1885.
This market is open six days a week (closed on Sundays) and is packed with 300 stalls that sell everything from clothes and books to records, antiques and bicycles. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll probably find it here – as long as you’re up for a bit of a rummage.
Once you’ve had your fair share of flea market shopping, take a walk across Lastage to Nieuwmarkt, a large square in the centre of this area. Here you’ll find the most impressive city gate that remains in Amsterdam. Built in 1488, it was eventually turned into the ‘Waag’ (weigh house) for merchants and then an anatomical theatre, where Rembrandt painted The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp in 1632.
There’s a small market with cheese and flower stalls here on weekdays and a large organic vegetable market that’s popular with locals on Saturdays.
These days, the Waag is home to a stylish café with an outdoor terrace on Nieuwmarkt. The suitably named In de Waag is the perfect place for an al fresco lunch on a sunny day but is also just as lovely inside. Despite being over 500 years old, the building has been beautifully preserved and has long wooden tables and large iron chandeliers, which light the restaurant at night.
Their lunch menu has a delicious selection of sandwiches, with fillings like roasted tuna on dark bread and wasabi mayo or smoked ‘pulled’ salmon with dill, capers and lemon on white bread. If you fancy something warm, try the veal croquettes with cornbread and mustard or their hotdog with sauerkraut, crispy onion and piccalilli.
Time for a bit of culture after lunch. You can’t spend a day in Nieuwmarkt and Lastage without visiting the Rembrandt House Museum.
First opened in 1911, this museum is dedicated to the greatest of the Dutch Master, showcasing the everyday life of Rembrandt over the 20 years that he lived in this house (from 1639 and 1659). The museum itself is an excellent example of Dutch architecture from this period, so it is a truly immersive experience of the era.
Inside you’ll find a comprehensive overview of Rembrandt’s prints: 260 of the 290 etchings he made are in the museum’s collection, with many displayed alongside a small number of paintings by Rembrandt’s teacher, his pupils and his contemporaries.
Alongside the permanent collection, there is often a related exhibition, such as work by artists inspired by Rembrandt or one featuring drawings and prints by the Dutch figurative artist Peter Vos.
Slip into speakeasy mode at Amsterdam’s hippest cocktail bar. Hiding in Plain Sight is tucked away on a quiet corner that looks pretty unassuming if you’re passing by. Inside you’ll find a sultry speakeasy vibe and menu printed on such thick paper that it feels like you’re being handed a book.
The husband and wife team behind HPS shake up a mean selection of concoctions, such as jade coloured Flying Dutchman, which mixes plum brandy, crème de violette, maraschino cherry liqueur and lemon juice with Bols Genever – the precursor to English gin, as well as being the origin of the phrase ‘Dutch courage’. If you’d prefer something simpler, try the Sherry Cobbler, with orange slices and amontillado sherry.
What better way to wrap up your day in this neighbourhood than at a chic restaurant of the same name? Lastage Amsterdam is an affordably priced Michelin-starred establishment overlooking the canal that serves up Dutch-French cuisine. It’s a small restaurant, seating only 30 guests, which is a welcome change from many of Amsterdam’s large but impersonal fine dining hotspots.
The menu is structured around the option of having a selection of courses between three and six, depending on what you like on the menu. Start with the lukewarm mackerel, served with a spicy sambal goreng, radish-like rettich, Connemara oysters and foam of the palm-like pandan. The highlight of the main course is the buitengewoon (high quality) lamb, served with sweetbread, gnocchi, turnip and jus of roasted garlic, while dessert includes wild peaches in puff pastry, accompanied by a raspberry parfait with chocolate praliné and lemon thyme.